I feel a real sense of responsibility to build Ellevest the right way and to take the right actions. This isn’t just important because it’s the right thing for every company to do. It’s also because we founded and built Ellevest around the mission of getting more money into the hands of women. We’re working to drive real structural change and a fairer society. And we’re the only financial company that’s doing this. We need to get it right.
But the events of the past two weeks remind us all of how much more work there still is to do to dismantle white supremacy. They also show me personally how I’ve fallen short of what I set out for myself as a leader.
Today, I don’t have a single Black person on my leadership team.
This despite the fact that Ellevest was built on the foundational belief in the power of diversity. I have taken pride in bringing together people who don’t see themselves reflected back at them at a Goldman Sachs or a typical fintech start-up. I have taken pride in our representation of under-represented groups at Ellevest.
And goodness knows that I’ve dragged other financial services companies for not having enough women on their leadership teams — even posting pictures of their teams to point out what’s wrong.
Not good enough. Particularly because I also believe that when we make money more equal for everyone, when you start closing the money gaps, there is a tremendous positive ripple effect, not just for women themselves, but for their families and our society.
But the path to equality looks different for Black women. White supremacy (the cultural and historical centering of white people and belief that they are superior, whether acknowledged or not) and systemic racism lead directly to wealth inequality, especially for Black women. I have been sick that — for all that we hear about the average woman’s pay gap of 82 cents to a white man’s dollar — the pay gap for Black women is just 61 cents. More importantly, the average gender wealth gap — the amount of money a woman owns compared to a white man — is just 32 cents on average, and just $0.01 for Black women. You read that right: one penny.
“The average woman” is a mathematical construct, not a real person. She doesn’t struggle against intersectional injustices and systemic racism. What might work for her isn’t going to work for Black women.
You have my commitment that I will add Black executives to the Ellevest leadership team.
You also have my commitment that the amplification we’ve been doing of Black voices on our social channels, in our articles, and in our newsletters will continue.
And you have my commitment that we’ll embed action against racism into our very business as well: We already provide investing with a gender lens. Our team is working right now on expanding our investing in Black-owned businesses and getting more money in the hands of Black people.
Investing in this way is important because this is what we at Ellevest can uniquely do, to create real, structural change.
I apologize. I — and all of the Ellevest team — will be showing up for this fight. Sometimes imperfectly, I know. But we’ll keep showing up.
And I invite your feedback. Please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS: People have been asking about the composition of our company and our leadership team. Here are the stats.
Company: 15% Black, 46% people of color, 73% women
Leadership: 0% Black, 30% people of color, 70% women
Engineering: 25% Black, 54% people of color, 42% women
Product: 30% Black, 45% people of color, 85% women
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